Allard Dembe, director, Center for Health Outcomes, Policy and Evaluation Studies (HOPES) at The Ohio State College of Public Health, recently presented on the linkages between long work hours and chronic health conditions at the Conference on Overwork, Multi-Disciplinary Analysis at Netanya Academic College in Israel.
The conference was organized as the result of recent regulatory and legal initiatives in Israel to impose a maximum cap of eight hours per day as the allowable daily limit for full-time employees. Several European countries have considered similar proposals as a way of distributing available work hours to a broader number of workers and thereby reducing unemployment rates.
A study described by Dembe at the conference was conducted over a 32 year period showing that there is a relationship between long work hours and chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Employees who work more than 60 hours a week are more susceptible to a variety of adverse health conditions as well as fatigue, stress and sleep disturbances. Long work hours can also result in strained family relationships, work absenteeism and increased alcohol and tobacco use.
Dembe remarked that “Israeli policy makers had invited me and one other American researcher to help Israeli officials consider the potential benefits of enacting long-hour regulations. This was a great opportunity to interact with Israeli researchers and pursue the potential for continuing international collaborations around this issue.”